Troubled; An Anarchist Primer on the Occupation of the North of Ireland

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alasdairelmwood
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Oct 15 2012 23:26
Troubled; An Anarchist Primer on the Occupation of the North of Ireland

An essay by Alasdair Elmwood detailing a brief history of what is commonly referred to as 'the troubles' and an subsequent anti-state analysis and call to action. Emphasis on readers from the British mainland to learn from the experiences of activists in the North of Ireland.

http://zinelibrary.info/troubled-anarchist-primer-occupation-north-ireland

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georgestapleton
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Oct 16 2012 12:04

Yeah from a quick glance this seems totally bizarre. Who wrote it?

omen
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Oct 16 2012 12:31
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah from a quick glance this seems totally bizarre. Who wrote it?
alasdairelmwood wrote:
An essay by Alasdair Elmwood[...]

roll eyes

Also, what revol said.

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Steven.
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Oct 16 2012 13:03

Jesus what an appalling pamphlet

omen
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Oct 16 2012 13:32

Also posted on Indymedia UK at around the same time. Didn't go down well there, either...

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georgestapleton
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Oct 16 2012 13:32
omen wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah from a quick glance this seems totally bizarre. Who wrote it?
alasdairelmwood wrote:
An essay by Alasdair Elmwood[...]

roll eyes

Oh Alasdair.... of course!!!

I can read.

I meant whose Alasdair Elmwood? Google gives nothing but the pamphlet and the pamphlet doesn't say who produced it apart from the the name "Alasdair Elmwood".

But yeah cheers for the help. roll eyes

omen
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Oct 16 2012 13:37
georgestapleton wrote:
I meant whose Alasdair Elmwood?

I was just teasing! But I'll refer you to revol's post for a more illuminating answer:

revol68 wrote:
Some numpty.

wink

To answer your question: I don't think anyone knows. Possibly not even Alasdair Elmwood. Maybe a pseudonym, anyway. Best guess: some bloke posting shit on the Internet.

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Steven.
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Oct 16 2012 13:38

That said, it would be good to have an introductory text on the subject which was actually decent…

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georgestapleton
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Oct 16 2012 13:57
Steven. wrote:
That said, it would be good to have an introductory text on the subject which was actually decent…

Indeed.

A big problem though is that the history of the troubles is not only complicated but can be broken up into very different sections.

68-72: NICRA up to Bloody Sunday

72-75: Bloody Sunday up to failure of Sunningdale

75-81: Sunningdale to Hunger Strikes

81-98: Hungerstrikes to Good Friday

98-12: Good Friday to today

Now while the last three periods would be relatively easy to write, (war is bad mmmkay), the first earlier periods would be where I'd find it hard. Or rather tying in all the periods together would be hard.

alasdairelmwood
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Oct 16 2012 15:00

Thanks for reading through it and it's the first pamphlet I've ever made. To go through some points in turn: the Provisionals evolved out of the explicitly socialist Original IRA in the late 1960s and embraced a variety of socialist ideals, ethos and goals that you can research for yourself all the way up to the mid 1980s. In a sense, these have been carried forward by the modern Sinn Fein political party that espouses some form of left-wing politics on economic issues that one would find akin to RESPECT or the SSP. The original heritage stems from Collony and the other authors of the 1916 proclamation which I'm also sure you can read yourself.

Indeed, the pamphlet is short and skips over many glaring and important instances in modern Irish history. Still, it is a 12 page pamphlet that aims to offer a contemporary anarchist critique and analysis. I think that holds true throughout the pamphlet with the key arguements being that of the impressive show of force displayed by the British State, the armed response that countered this for some thirty years and the continued occupation reflected in ongoing discrimination and some of the worse poverty levels for Western Europe.

I'm sure there is plenty in it that British people can learn from. Some facts on inequality may stand out but beyond that I would hope people would take note of the policing tactics using throughout the Troubles and how those seem to be in the process of steady adoption here in the British mainland. Equally, the levels of State violence may also stand out which is highlighted at the beginning of the pamphlet.

I suppose the overall aim isn't to educate people supposedly on *this* forum, of which I've read enough in the last few years, but rather to offer a simple, concise anti-State understanding of the ongoing conflict in the North of Ireland. Beyond that there's an aim for people to read this, witness the connections to policing on the British mainland and do further research. I should have added it but Earth First do a guide to public order scenarios that match a lot of tactics used in the North of Ireland.

Now on the British mainland it strikes me as painfully obvious that people seem (a) blissfully unaware of the murder carried out in their name on their back doorstep but also (b) unable to cope with public order situations. In the North you soon pick up responses to these two points or you recede into apathy and moderacy.

It appears some peoples' comments display a lack of understanding of the pamphlet so please, go ahead and read it and make your own judgments.

In solidarity and, again, thanks for the comments.

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georgestapleton
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Oct 16 2012 15:27

Ok. In before revol68 says something. But fair play to you for trying to address what is a pretty tricky issue. But this is a very complex situation and I think you really need to look at it again.

revol68 is from NI, as is omen (I think) I'm from Dublin and all of us would have a lot of contact with Irish republicanism and have thought about and debated the situation in the North, both presently and historically, quite a lot.

And to put a blunt edge on this - although I have only skim read it, the pamphlet seems very wrong about a lot of things.

The big point is that regardless of whether the situation in Northern Ireland in the 70s/80s can be described as British imperialism or not (something I think revol and I would disagree on), Northern Ireland is not a topic that you can address by considering it solely as a struggle between anti-imperialists and imperialists. That isn't what happened. A massive, perhaps the dominant, aspect of the struggle in the North was an internecine war between two sections of the Northern working class based on ethno-religious identity and the quest to create a nation state based on that identity to the exclusion of the other identity. (In very crude terms, 1 million catholic workers vs 1 million protestant workers.) That very messy aspect of the struggle is something you have to address and simply saying that unionists are 'bought off' or can be disregarded because the identify with the British state is nowhere near enough.

If you go rooting the archives of this site you'll find some debates on this issue. Or if you go and look at the work of the WSM or Organise! the two main anarchist groups in Ireland you'll find stuff there as well. I'd recommend you do that.

omen
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Oct 16 2012 16:33
georgestapleton wrote:
revol68 is from NI, as is omen (I think)

No, I just have a big mouth. Perhaps you are confusing me with Eamonn?

(Wouldn't mind seeing a decent anarchist take on this subject, though. Something introductory, brief, and not mental.)

Angelus Novus
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Oct 16 2012 17:11

Question for y'all: is this book worth checking out?

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Entdinglichung
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Oct 16 2012 17:13
Angelus Novus wrote:
Question for y'all: is this book worth checking out?

a good one, read it a few months ago

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klas batalo
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Oct 16 2012 18:06

Just want to point out that when this was posted to @News, it was intruduced like this:

Quote:
An essay by Alasdair Elmwood detailing a brief history of what is commonly referred to as 'the troubles' and a subsequent anti-state analysis and call to action. Emphasis on readers from the British mainland to learn from the experiences of activists in the North of Ireland.

Zine library download link

Marxists probably getting annoyed

I question if the authors are really in solidarity, seemed like they wanted to pick a fight.

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 18:22

While I agree that the text has many flaws it can be excused on the grounds that all too often Anarchists have consistently failed to produce a cogent synthesis on Ireland.
On too many occasions on a personal level I witnessed comrades being dismissive or refusing to acknowledge the particular relovence to Anarchists of the State's modes operandi in the occupied 6 counties.
This attitude was a glaring oversight on an issue which gave Libertarians a close insight into the brutal State oppression of the anti-Unionist working class.
This was a war in which religious/sectarian fault lines were deliberately extenuated in order to copperfasten Imperialist rule going back 800 years!
Every facet of unbridled State oppression was utilised in order to intimidate and destroy any resistance to the 6 county state whether by State/Loyalist death squads,Internment without trial,pogroms,gerrymandering,torture,racism and more.
That so many Anarchists were dismissive and refused to learn because all they saw was "just Nationalism" shows a myopic and ignorant attitude that betrays flaws in their own ideological theory.

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Oct 16 2012 18:30
freemind wrote:
While I agree that the text has many flaws it can be excused on the grounds that all too often Anarchists have consistently failed to produce a cogent synthesis on Ireland.
On too many occasions on a personal level I witnessed comrades being dismissive or refusing to acknowledge the particular relovence to Anarchists of the State's modes operandi in the occupied 6 counties.
This attitude was a glaring oversight on an issue which gave Libertarians a close insight into the brutal State oppression of the anti-Unionist working class.
This was a war in which religious/sectarian fault lines were deliberately extenuated in order to copperfasten Imperialist rule going back 800 years!
Every facet of unbridled State oppression was utilised in order to intimidate and destroy any resistance to the 6 county state whether by State/Loyalist death squads,Internment without trial,pogroms,gerrymandering,torture,racism and more.
That so many Anarchists were dismissive and refused to learn because all they saw was "just Nationalism" shows a myopic and ignorant attitude that betrays flaws in their own ideological theory.

Maybe failed to produce one which supports the Irish Republican sympathies that the rest of your post betrays, thats not the same as not being clear.

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 18:42

That statement shows your lack of knowledge and total ignorance onthe subject.That you can make a snap judgement because a couple of phrases are also used by Republicans merely shows the malaise that yourself and sadly some Anarchists labour under!
The DAM produced a belated document on Ireland that in my view was an excellent Anarchist analysis of the Irish war,it also used terminology like "anti-unionist,partition,6counties.." That does not mean that the DAM was pro-Republican or supported the IRA!
If you can't understand that then clarity and education is something you are in need of!

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PartyBucket
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Oct 16 2012 18:59
freemind wrote:
That statement shows your lack of knowledge and total ignorance onthe subject.That you can make a snap judgement because a couple of phrases are also used by Republicans merely shows the malaise that yourself and sadly some Anarchists labour under!
The DAM produced a belated document on Ireland that in my view was an excellent Anarchist analysis of the Irish war,it also used terminology like "anti-unionist,partition,6counties.." That does not mean that the DAM was pro-Republican or supported the IRA!
If you can't understand that then clarity and education is something you are in need of!

Do you know where I live?
Anarchists in 'the occupied 6 counties' have consistently espoused a VERY clear internationalist and more importantly antinationalist line, in a place where such ideas have very, very little currency and over the years, for their troubles, have been threatened by loyalists and the representatives of the 'anti-unionist working class' alike.
Our analysis may not suit your reading of events, but to say its not clear is dishonest.

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 18:54

All the more reason to stop making snap judgements and come up with an Anarchist analysis.!

omen
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Oct 16 2012 19:14

*sigh*

One of the "excusable" pamphlet's "many flaws":

That Pamphlet wrote:
Dissident republicans, once allied to Sinn Fein, have combined to create a new IRA in the summer of 2012. The groups involved have assassinated one police officer and two British soldiers in the past few years and have detonated several bombs across the North. They completely reject the peace process and are calling for armed resistance to British rule; be it carried out from London or Belfast.

Resistance does not end with political process.

Um?

[Large text is as in the original.]

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 19:14

Just got the rest of your post which did not come up initially so apologies if my last post was prematurely terse.
I'm sure Anarchists in the 6 counties have espoused a clear internationalist line PartyBucket but my criticism was of English Anarchists specifically.
Your analysis is not the problem-the problem is with the complacency and lack of knowledge I have encountered from English Anarchists during my activism which I found disappointing to say the least.
With respect and if I'm wrong. I apologise I sense that you have taken my initial statement personally.I would never be so arrogant as to condescend or dictate to comrades who actually live in Ireland-I respect them too much!
However by the same token I would expect a comrade to understand that my position stated was not pro-Republican.My statement was a few paragraphs long so any judgement would surely be best left until a few posts later,in order to form a more comprehensive view.

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 19:23

Rev ol68!
The snap judgement is on myself being accused of an Irish republican viewpoint not any defence of the pamphlet.OMEN-stop the cheap insinuation and twisting of words!The term "excusable" was used to emphasise the recognition that at least someone has tried to address the issue-SIGH!

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Oct 16 2012 19:32
freemind wrote:
Rev ol68!
The snap judgement is on myself being accused of an Irish republican viewpoint not any defence of the pamphlet.OMEN-stop the cheap insinuation and twisting of words!The term "excusable" was used to emphasise the recognition that at least someone has tried to address the issue-SIGH!

This is exactly my point...when anarchists 'address the issue' but with an analysis that isnt to the liking of people with an 'anti-imperialist' axe to grind or a nationalist reading of the history involved, they are simply accused of NOT addressing the issue. Whereas an analysis that that tips the hat to those viewpoints is regarded as an honest attempt to address the issue however flawed.

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 19:32

REVOL68
"Jargon of crappy anti imperialism"LOL
Is that it?
Proves my point!
The DAM pamphlet was In the same bracket I suppose?Blinkered and pointless.

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Oct 16 2012 19:36
freemind wrote:
Just got the rest of your post which did not come up initially so apologies if my last post was prematurely terse.
I'm sure Anarchists in the 6 counties have espoused a clear internationalist line PartyBucket but my criticism was of English Anarchists specifically.
Your analysis is not the problem-the problem is with the complacency and lack of knowledge I have encountered from English Anarchists during my activism which I found disappointing to say the least.

Its the English anarchists with this 'disappointing' attitude that most of us in the north are glad exist, because they basically share our analysis and are a refreshing exception to the nonsense that most of the English/British left come out with regarding 'Ireland'.

omen
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Oct 16 2012 19:44
freemind wrote:
The term "excusable" was used to emphasise the recognition that at least someone has tried to address the issue-SIGH!

I actually read the pamphlet. All of it. The whole thing reads like its trying to rehabilitate the IRA, ffs, boasting of the number of servicemen killed, while failing to mention all the civilians killed (and whom it intentionally targeted), ending in the call to arms I quoted above. The anarchist critique in it is weak at best, and seems used more to criticize Sinn Fein and the IRA for rejecting armed struggle than anything else. Honestly, revols off-the-cuff, badly spelt comment* about "The presence of the british state in the [north] is a [legacy] of colonialism [rather than present day imperialism]" is a more insightful anarchist critique than the entire pamphlet! Really!

(*I mean that in a good way, revol. wink)

freemind
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Oct 16 2012 19:43

PartyBucket
I agree!
I'm not defending Leftist anti-imperialism or Nationalism and would not defend those positions.Im stressing the need for Anarchists to have a set and clear consistent position in order to counter effectively such reactionary viewpoints.Obviously you are at the sharp end and pushing a class analysis where the national question pervades and acts as a barrier to class politics is tougher than for someone espousing the same position from the neighbouring country.

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Oct 16 2012 19:45
freemind wrote:
REVOL68
"Jargon of crappy anti imperialism"LOL
Is that it?
Proves my point!
The DAM pamphlet was In the same bracket I suppose?Blinkered and pointless.

I have never read it, but if it used the terminology you say it did then I think anarchists in the north would have issues with it, and I would be very very disappointed if SolFed were to issue something similar in the present day.

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plasmatelly
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Oct 16 2012 19:49

Similar to what? The pamphlet you never read!?

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PartyBucket
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Oct 16 2012 19:56
plasmatelly wrote:
Similar to what? The pamphlet you never read!?

Similar to the description of the contents of said pamphlet as described to me by fremind in post #22.
Did you just start reading at post #39?